Oh, Zuck: Facebook's bumpy start just got a little worse
May 23rd, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Oh, Zuck: Facebook's bumpy start just got a little worse

To say its been a rough ride for Facebook's IPO would be an understatement.

And as the social media giant edges toward the close of its first week of trading, questions are swirling about the company's valuation, its profitability and now allegations that full details of the stock's likely value were shared with only a select group of people.

Did some people get a heads-up Facebook's IPO wasn't what it seemed?

Regulators are now looking into the possibility that Facebook's Wall Street investment banks may have tipped off some clients that Facebook wasn't necessarily a great buy or worth the hype it was receiving, according to reports Wednesday from Reuters and several other news organizations.

“Facebook changed the numbers – they didn’t forecast their business right and they changed their numbers and told analysts,” a person at one of Facebook’s banks told Reuters.

Overheard on CNN.com 'I saw this one coming from a mile away'

The big question is: Did certain privileged customers receive information about the Facebook offering that you as an individual investor might not have?

Rick Ketchum, head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an independent regulatory body, acknowledged in an article from Reuters that a Morgan Stanley analyst reduced his revenue projections for Facebook shortly before the offering and shared the information with institutional investors.

And now Facebook shareholders have filed a lawsuit against the social network, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a number of banks, alleging that crucial information was concealed ahead of Facebook's IPO. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, charges the defendants with failing to disclose in the critical days leading up to Friday's initial public offering "a severe and pronounced reduction."

Facebook  defended themselves on Wednesday saying they "believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously."

The report, and now the lawsuit, raises questions about whether Morgan Stanley, one of the underwriter companies that handled Facebook's IPO, or other banks knowingly offered certain investors privileged information that should have been made public. Other underwriters targeted by the lawsuit include Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America.

It is possible that Morgan Stanley may have signed off on a price that was too high or agreed to sell too many shares in the deal, CNNMoney.com reports. Then, Morgan Stanley analysts are alleged to have told certain people they had a negative assessment of the social network's offering.

"If true, the allegations are a matter of regulatory concern to FINRA and the [Securities and Exchange Commission]," Ketchum said in a statement via a spokeswoman.

The New York Times reported Morgan Stanley did more than just quietly share a negative outlook; they actually "held conference calls to update their banks' analysts on business."

"Analysts at Morgan Stanley and other firms soon started advising clients to dial back their expectations," the article says. "One prospective buyer was told that second-quarter revenue could be 5 percent lower than the bank’s earlier estimates."

Sallie Krawcheck, Bank of America's former head of wealth management, took to Twitter to share her outrage about the allegations.

[tweet https://twitter.com/SallieKrawcheck/status/205090084373008384%5D

A glitch leaves investors not knowing if they have Facebook stock

Facebook's debut on the market was hindered by early confusion when trading was delayed by two hours after what Nasdaq called a "technical error."

"People didn't know where their orders stood, and it became a big guessing game," one trader, who had put in an order to buy Facebook shares ahead of the opening bell, told CNNMoney.com. "Nasdaq couldn't handle it - they blew it."

The trader said he didn't receive a report of how many shares he bought and how much he paid for them until three hours after his order was executed. Typically, that report is transmitted instantaneously, he said.

Facebook IPO: What went wrong?

Others were left even further in the dark. A frustrated 11-year-old investor, who in many ways represents the most basic frustration for individual investors, told the New York Post that three days after the public debut, he had absolutely no idea if he even had gotten shares of the company. 

“They are holding my money hostage,” said Sam Lesser, who had put in a $10,000 Facebook order from money he made in a small business he created. "It’s really disappointing, because we could have made money on this."

To prevent a repeat of Facebook's botched opening, Nasdaq has changed its process to no longer accept order modifications once the final calculation has begun.

Stock disappointing many - unless you're a flipper

If you bought Facebook hoping it would be a steady earner in the early days, you were certainly out of luck.

While the Facebook IPO was one of the most highly anticipated IPOs in recent memory, setting a record for first-day trading volume, it's also been quite a disappointment so far.

The stock is still down about 15 and has yet to post a truly positive trading session. On Friday the stock had a minute gain, but other than that, it hasn't done much to impress early investors.

That is, of course, unless you're someone looking to trade minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour in order to turn a real quick profit.

"It's a day trader's paradise right now," Douglas DePietro, managing director for sales trading and trading execution at Evercore Partners, told CNNMoney.com. "There's high volatility and high volume."

soundoff (772 Responses)
  1. antimoron

    Sam Lesser, who had put in a $10,000 Facebook order from money he made in a small business he created. "It’s really disappointing, because we could have made money on this." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, this is what happens when monkeys invest. LOL. get an education, then hire a professional. What a loser.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Obviously this is because of too much regulation of Wall Street.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Obviously you are a moron

      May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Begin American Spring

      And he tips off American Spring. When America gets a clue that they are being used by jewish banksters.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • KIlldeer

      Love the sarcasm

      May 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Harvey Walbinger

    The purchase of Instagram should have been your indication that the people running Facebook do not understand business. They are just a bunch of trendy hipsters.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. talkic social network

    Zuckerberg wanted a 100 billion dollar valuation (at least for a few minutes) and probably had everyone involved sh!tting bricks if they didn't make it happen. Evil.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Patrick Lewis

    And this is why I both don't do facebook or buy facebook stock. Another technology will come by and eclipse them when they try to monetize their mountain of data. JUST LIKE MYSPACE

    May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. terry

    couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of guys!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Svenska

    Somehow, someway, this mess will all be Bush's fault.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mandy

      Like we didn't see this coming! They valued their stocks at 50 to 100 times their annual revenue. Didn't anyone realize that or are there just that many suckers?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dakota2000

    I predict, he will sell a billion dollars in stock and join his buddy in singapore and renounce his US citizenship. My computer feels slimy just typing this..

    May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dakota2000

    How do you spell Myspace? F-A-C-E-B-O-O-K

    May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 18E

    I can't hardy wait for the movie version.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Flipider.com

    Who's doing things from their "Bucket List" after Facebook when public and Check off Marriage from it?

    Facebook stalled in their public debut? more like Geronimo. The public's expansion into Facebook and ignoring a deadly hail of comments, the 1% repeatedly attacked.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick

    Cry babies didn't make money, so now they sue. Did you read the prospectus? The fine print? the fine print that says "we believe this to be true but it might not be?"

    Lawyers will make a chunk o' change though.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Che

    A penny stock at best, even then I wouldn't touch it.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    Of course there is INSIDER TRADING. It goes on all day, everyday. The ultra-rich don't get caught; it's patsies like Martha Stewart that get "caught"..... What a JOKE fiat paper system we live under.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Natch

    I don't know a darn thing about stocks or Wall Street, but I told people last week to hold off buying FB stock, until it hit $25. Looks like I wasn't too far off!!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
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